On the occasion of the International Museum Day 2021, and after the reopening of the National Museum of Somalia on 1 July 2020 after being closed for almost 30 years due to civil war and conflict, UNIDROIT was invited to celebrate with the Somali authorities and participate in a hybrid National workshop on the protection of cultural property in Somalia, organised by the Somali Academy of Science and Arts (SOMASA) together with UNESCO and in partnership with the African Union, UNIDROIT and ICOM.
After the opening remarks of H.E. Abdullahi Abukar Haji Abdullahi, Minister of Education, Culture and Higher Education, Mr Lazare Eloundou, Director of UNESCO Culture and Emergencies Entity and Ms Angela Martins, Director of Culture at the African Union Commission, Ms Karalyn Monteil, Programme Specialist for Culture at the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa, introduced the UNESCO’s normative frameworks for the protection of cultural property, including museums and collections. Ms Marina Schneider, Principal Legal Officer and Treaty Depositary at UNIDROIT, then presented the 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects and its benefits for Somalia together with the UNESCO-UNIDROIT Model Provisions on State Ownership of Undiscovered Cultural Objects. Mr Terry Nyambe, member of the Executive Council of ICOM then introduced the International Council on Museums, its network and resources to support the revival of the National Museum of Somalia.
During the second session, Somali experts presented the mission, vision and goals of the National Museum of Somalia (Prof. Ahmed Mohamed Si’id, Director), the past, present and future of the collections of the Museum (Prof. Osman Gedow Amir, national expert of natural heritage) and the current level of protection of cultural property in Somalia with a particular focus on the needs and priority of archaeological sites in Somalia (Prof. Osman Yusuf Mohamed, archaeologist).
After discussion on recommendations for priority actions in the prevention and fight against illicit traffic of cultural property in Somalia moderated by Mr Abdulkadir Nur, Chairperson of SOMASA, participants recommended, among other actions, the development of national legislation for the protection of cultural objects, the ratification of the 1970 UNESCO and 1995 UNIDROIT Conventions, capacity building for museum professionals and awareness raising for local communities.
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H.E. Abdullahi Abukar Haji Abdullahi, Somali Minister of Education,
Culture and Higher Education presenting his opening remarks.
The participants to the workshop at the Somali Academy of Science and Arts (SOMASA)
National Museum of Somalia